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Mental Health & Exercise - Give yourself a head start...

Last updated: 2.05pm, Monday 10th May 2021 by

With the world entering into Mental Health Awareness Week after a year-long global pandemic, its been harder than ever to keep to the routine that some of us crave. Whether it is early morning gym sessions, long runs/walks/cycles in the hills or team sport, we have all had to adapt, and as lockdown lifts - gyms and team sport etc are almost back to normal.

So why should we bother with exercise? Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19-64 and 65+ states that we should do 150minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. We should also be performing 2 sessions per week that strengthen all the major muscle groups. This level of exercise will reduce the likelihood of developing chronic conditions such Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke as evidenced in the following infographic...

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But what about mental health? According to the NHS Live Well website regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression. The type of exercise is not important but it should be something you enjoy, otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.

So what does exercise actually do?

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If you want to a little bit more about what happens in the brain this is a fascinating article from the guardian about neuroscience research and running...

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We have all heard of and hopefully felt the endorphin release associated with exercise. This is because the level of endocannabinoids circulating in the blood rises after 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise. So that’s a step in the right direction but there must be more to help our mental health. Yes there is, a lot more but we are still only beginning to make sense of it all.

The one that I resonate with as you can see in another upcoming blog feature about my personal sporting experience is the meditative role of exercise. Research showed that exercise can result in a damping down of activity in the “default mode network”. Your default mode network is the source of your inner monologue, which results in mind-wandering and rumination on your past. These, as we all know, are not helpful things and have a strong link to depression.

Exercise is proven to help with our “executive function” which helps us focus our attention and problem solve. In our daily lives, this provide us with structure and a sense of achievement. However, exercise can be overdone and used to mask our mental health problems, as highlighted here. This can then have a detrimental effects on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

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So in these difficult times, it’s even more important to connect with exercise and find something you love...

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Once it’s safe to do so and with social distancing measures in place, Hampden Sports Clinic will resume and will continue offering range of Health and Fitness tests which are individualised to match your needs.

Whether you are looking for the gold standard VO2 Max fitness assessment or a more health based evaluation we can offer a variety of checks to assist you enjoy being active with the reassurance of an expert analysis of your results and explained in clear language to allow you to move forward.